6 Startling Facts About Distracted Driving that will Scare You Straight

distracted driving
Nearly one of four people that get into a wreck can blame their mobile device. Image: Lord Jim via Flickr

Distracted driving has become an increasingly popular subject with the acceptance of smartphones. With more cell phones in the United States than people (there are 320 million mobile phone subscriptions–102.4% of the population), it is easy to text or Facebook while driving your moving truck. Don’t do it!

People know that distracted driving is not safe. Despite this, a National Safety Council report says that more than a third of people have read texts or emails while driving in the past 30 days. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can mean the difference between life and death.

Here are six startling facts about distracted driving:

1. 11% of all drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

Teenage drivers text more than any other age group, and they have the highest proportion of distracted-related fatal crashes. Pew Research Center notes that two of five teens (40%) have been in the car with a distracted driver.

2. Hands-free devices do not reduce the risk of crashes or fatalities.

Bluetooth headsets, wireless microphones and other devices have not stopped driving-related crashes. Drivers who use hand-held or hands-free devices are four times as likely to get into crashes that injure others.

3. Drivers have slower reaction times than drivers impaired at .08 blood alcohol level.

According to the NHTSA, people take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds to write or read a text. At 55 miles per hour, you are essentially driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

Your brain activity is reduced by more than a third (37%) when talking while driving, and you miss seeing up to 59% of your driving environment.

4. At least 24% of crashes in 2010 involved drivers with cell phones.

Of the 5.4 million automobile crashes in 2010, more than 1.1 million were due to a driver talking on a cell phone. At least 160,000 accidents came from texting drivers. Drivers using a cell phone are 23 times more likely to get in a wreck.

5. The lives lost on U.S. Roadways each year are equivalent to a 100-passenger jet crashing every day of the year, according to the National Safety Council.

In 2010, there were 30,196 fatal crashes and 32,885 fatalities due to accidents. The NHTSA says that nearly 10% of deaths (3,092) involved distracted drivers.

6. People will stop texting and driving if you tell them to.

While an overwhelming majority of teens (97%) admit that texting while driving is dangerous, nearly half (43%) admitted to doing it. Approximately 77% of teens have been in the car with a texting parent, so perhaps they were influenced.

Conversely, 90% of surveyed teens said they would stop texting while driving if a friend told them to, and 93% would stop if a parent put their foot down.

What can you do to stay safe? Start turning off your cell phone when you get in your vehicle, or put it on vibrate or in silent mode. Apps like AT &T’s DriveMode send an automatic reply message and route calls to voicemail).

What tips do you have to avoid distracted driving? Respond in the comments below!